More than 100 people gathered yesterday at the shelter where Mitch Snyder rose to national prominence and pledged to help complete Snyder's last battle for the homeless.

Shelter officials said they are seeking to repeal a D.C. Council action that ends the city's policy of providing unlimited shelter to the city's homeless. The policy was adopted overwhelmingly by voters in 1984 when Snyder and other members of the Community for Creative Non-Violence sponsored Initiative 17, which guaranteed the right to overnight shelter.

Before the meeting began, Snyder's longtime companion, Carol Fennelly, granted her first interviews since his death with reporters outside the shelter, on the condition that she would not talk about her personal relationship with Snyder. "It was a private struggle that I will never speak of," she said. "It is my way of respecting his memory."

Fennelly said Snyder was angry and "ready for battle" because he was convinced that the voters' adoption of the overnight shelter law had been "ignored by the arrogance of the city council."

At the same time, Fennelly, who struggled to fight back tears, said, "He was concerned that if he sat down for a minute it would be all over. He was tired. It's complicated and there were a lot of elements."

After a television interview early yesterday afternoon, Fennelly collapsed and was taken to Capitol Hill Hospital, where doctors told her she was suffering from exhaustion, stress and dehydration. Fennelly said last night that she was given fluids intravenously, and that doctors recommended that she stay at the hospital for a couple of days. But Fennelly said she chose to leave to help with funeral arrangements for Snyder.

Snyder, 46, whose body was discovered Thursday at the shelter at Second and D streets NW, hanged himself, leaving a suicide note that focused on his failed romance with Fennelly, according to sources.

In recent weeks, sources said, Snyder was depressed about the amendment that limited Initiative 17 and public criticism of his actions on behalf of the homeless.

In addition, CCNV member Shannon Wight said that about six weeks ago, Snyder told associates he was being investigated by the Internal Revenue Service in connection with royalties from the television movie about his life. Shannon said the money had gone to CCNV, which identifies itself as a nonprofit, though not federally tax-exempt, group.

Fennelly said in an interview in April that she was aware of the investigation but that neither she nor Snyder was worried about the outcome. IRS officials declined to comment Friday on whether they are conducting an investigation.

"I think Mitch's death is nothing but a pure and absolute loss," Fennelly said. "It is just a loss. If {people rally for the homeless} because of his death, that would be great. But his life had far more meaning than his death. It is just a waste."

Snyder had arranged yesterday's meeting more than three weeks ago by appealing for support in a letter that called the D.C. Council amendment a "draconian proposal" that would drive thousands of homeless people back to the streets and send a message to the nation that "it's okay to beat up on the victims."

Many of those who met at CCNV yesterday promised that Snyder's death would have meaning. Labor leader Ron Richardson said it would not be enough to rename the shelter after Snyder, as council member Nadine P. Winter (D-Ward 6) has proposed. "I don't think he would have wanted us to spend a lot of time grieving when there is work to be done," said Richardson said.

Steve O'Neil, who organized the petition drive for Initiative 17 six years ago, told the crowd that he was confident that they could collect about 20,000 signatures -- about 13,000 are needed -- in two weeks to place a referendum on the November ballot.

O'Neil, who lives in Minnesota, arrived in the District hours after Snyder's body was found. "Mitch was my friend, my teacher and my co-worker, and I was crushed by his death," he said.

Those attending yesterday's meeting donated $2,900 for the referendum movement. A number of them said they had received personal calls from Snyder a week ago asking them to attend the meeting.

"I said 'yes,' but I think I would have sent money and not come," said Pat Harley, a computer systems professor at Howard Community College in Columbia. "Today I'm here, and I'm going to take an active role because that is the change his death has made for me."

A candlelight vigil in remembrance of Snyder is scheduled to begin at the shelter at 3 p.m. tomorrow and continue through the night. His funeral, at which Jesse L. Jackson will preside, will be held outside the shelter at noon Tuesday.

Staff writers Ruben Castaneda and Chris Spolar contributed to this report.